Anyone out there taking part in this 28 day challenge?
For those who are not aware what it is, it is aimed at getting people to stop smoking for 28 days because if you are successful in going without a ciggy for that long then you are apparently twice as likely to carry on not smoking and succeed in giving up altogether.
I have a close friend starting the challenge today which made me want to write about it. I definitely don't want to lecture smokers about giving up! Not at all. I used to smoke. I smoked for ten years and I loved smoking. It fit in well with every aspect of my life perfectly; that quick ciggy break with a work colleague for a goss and ten minutes away from a screen or that after dinner ciggy having had a yummy meal. I loved a cigarette at any time. I still class myself as a smoker who just doesn't smoke because I know how hard it is to give up.
Personally for me, it was definitely more the habit that was harder to give up. Despite the fact I stopped in 2009 I STILL find myself not knowing what to do with my hands. When I ummed and ahhhed about kicking the habit the thought of not having a mid morning ten minute break to be able to nip out for a ciggy didn't appeal, neither did the idea of having a glass of wine without lighting up. It filled me with terror! All because I associated them with having a cigarette. But the point I had got to was that I hated smoking and was miserable doing it so thought I may as well be miserable not doing it (and richer!) I didn't like smelling of it, I didn't like feeling chesty in the morning or unable to smell and I didn't like how expensive it was. It did help me that my other half doesn't smoke and really hates it, I had already started cutting down when we got together in 2008 thanks to the smoking ban coming in the year before. I wasn't too fussed about standing out in the cold for hours on end for a ciggy and so cut down. When we began properly dating I spent most nights at his and didn't smoke at all in the evenings because I didn't like to go outside and didn't want to smell of it, the idea of getting into bed next to him knowing my hair smelt like an ashtray rather than the fruity shampoo I used didn't appeal one bit. Slowly and surely - and actually without realising it - I was cutting down and a year later while we were on holiday, I finished the pack I had been smoking over the fortnight (that's how much I had been able to cut down, one pack lasted me over a week!) and I said I wasn't going to buy another. It was hard but I did it. The next day - the last of our holiday - we ended up talking with a couple who were boozing and smoking which was the ultimate test but I remember looking at the woman's skin (she was older than us) and thinking how aged it looked, she had told us her age which is why I knew she looked older - smokers have a certain type of craped wrinkle that only smokers can get. I also remember hearing her throaty husk when she laughed, it almost sounded painful! I knew I could sound like that eventually. I suddenly looked at smoking differently, yes I was gagging to ponce a ciggy off of her but if I didn't give up now I never would and there were so many reason why not smoking was better than smoking. We wanted to move into our own place for a start, I wanted to be able to buy nice perfumes and clothes still too and if I were a smoker I wouldn't have been able to. I also wanted to smell nice! We got back from holiday and I carried on not smoking for 2years but one day, I am sad to say that I sneaked a ciggy while drunk and now and then when having a drink, if I were with someone that smoked I might ponce the odd cigarette. I hated doing it but there was no way I wanted to buy a pack because it would mean I was a smoker again. Needless to say my other half was more than disappointed. After about a year of now and then being a social smoker I knocked it on the head again, completely disgusted with myself! It took a year to get to that point but I got there. I wanted to feel and know I was healthy and this wasn't going to do that! Then I gave up drinking in May this year which puts paid to any chance of me ever wanting a sneaky smoke again. I feel so much better for it and when I found out I was pregnant it was lovely to know there was no chance I had binge drank or smoked when I could have been in the early stages and not known.
It is really hard, as you have read I went through a stage when I failed again after over TWO YEARS of being smoke free and not missing it one bit. But if you fail, so what? It doesn't mean you can't try again. You definitely have to be ready to do it. You have to want to do it and despite enjoying it, there has to be part of your that dislikes it. If you are not doing it for yourself it won't work. I of course did it for my hubby and other people around me who I know were disappointed I smoked but all in all I did it for the reasons I wanted and the things I wanted. I wanted good skin, nice hair, money, nice clothes, a nice place to live and a future that was as healthy as it could be. Someone nagging you to give up doesn't work also despite what they might think! Hubby thinks it was his nagging that made me give up but it was only me - and a lot of willpower - who could do it.
Stoptober is awesome because you get a free help pack, there is an app with tips should you feel as though you are failing as well as ways to see how much money you are saving and how quickly your health is improving. There is also lots of help and advice on the website. I don't think it takes long to start feeling the benefit of giving up either, taking a deep breath in through the nose and being able to smell the fresh air was one of the first things I noticed - and not coughing after!
Good luck to anyone who is taking part in Stoptober. It is hard work but SO SO worth it in the end.